Who Is Gustavo Louis?

MF DOOM used to say he rocked a mask to keep the focus on the music rather than the musician—a noble cause and a clever device to maintain one's anonymity, but I can't help imagining that it also has the opposite effect. Humans are inherently curious animals. When we see a mask, we automatically wonder whose face is under it. Is it horribly mangled ala Viktor Von Doom? Or is it the familiar visage of someone we've known all our lives? Or could it somehow be our own face under there, an evil twin come back to collect its revenge for some unseen slight? In Mexican wrestling, it is considered the ultimate disrespect to unmask one's opponent. 

Like the traditional Mexican wrestler, Gustavo Louis dons a luchador mask. Over the past year, he's put out no fewer than 10 projects. However, he actually came to my attention via a retweet from fellow Hempsteader SmooVth regarding their shared origin. Of course, the mask in the profile pic made me wonder 'who's that,' not necessarily in terms of the person's identity but more their profession, as in, 'Is there a rapper coming out of Hempstead wearing a luchador mask?' Yes, there is. His (rap) name is Gustavo Louis, and he releases music under the auspices of Narconomics Records.

The latest release in terms of albums and mixtapes is The Love Tape, which aptly dropped on Valentine's Day. But even newer than that is the Mixed for Narconomics playlist he compiled on Soundcloud, featuring just a couple of his songs as well as a number of LI familiars, including The UN's "Mind Blowin" and De La Soul's "Lovely How I Let My Mind Float" ft. Biz Markie (the LIRR post no less). Both projects provide a solid introduction: the former showcasing his flare for animated hustling and affinity for Phat Bastard beats (the two have three projects together with a fourth on the way), the latter highlighting some of his compatibles and inspirations. Both stream below, along with a clip from a new song produced by Jay Be Ill, possibly from their upcoming Illnarco tape. Get familiar.


Azomali - A MANGO A DAY!

Imagine complete civil unrest, as in every person in every city taking to the streets. At first, of course, it's met with the weapons of the state: police brutality, human rights abuses ... you know the drill. And as the cities burn with revolution, the rainforests burn for industry. Now imagine all that coming to its only logical conclusion. At the end of the day, even military oppression is a Band-Aid. Or, like my father always says, you can only put down a people so long until they pull you from your fucking home. When the revolution ends, then the hope, at least, is that the rainforest and its people can both breathe again. Obviously, there's more to it than that. Revolution, by its very nature, is unending. Rainforests regenerate except when they can't. 

A MANGO A DAY! (Keeps the Colonizer Away), Azomali's first multi-song release since 2019's Guyaba Mixtape, feeds on the nuance undergirding all these generalities. If you've been following his Instagram over the past few years, then between some of most impressive off-the-head freestyles ever recorded, you've witnessed a number of scenes not unlike those generalized above. But seeing is one thing and feeling another. As opposed to social media, AMAD! has a deprogramming effect. It bumps in the corazón, jump-starting empathy. Impressively, it accomplishes this in under 20 minutes with just six songs and five field recorded interludes. For my part, it certainly didn't hurt that one of those six featured Johnny Storm and Azomali together on a track for the first time since they were known respectively as Sky Walker and Kaotik Ellement. But I digress.

Azomali's music ranges from transportive to outright transcendent. The scary thing is that it's only getting better. This naturally should tempt you to wonder what's next. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. For now, I suggest simply taking as prescribed...


Marley Marl Remixes Two Public Enemy Classics

Two years ago, writing about a Public Enemy LL Cool J blend, I said it "reconciles Rap Attack's infamous on-air diss of 'Public Enemy No. 1' by placing Chuck and Flav's voices on beat over a Marley Marl loop." I sometimes write stupid shit. This is Chuck D at Mr. Magic's funeral service. Little did I know that Marley Marl had already remixed my favorite Public Enemy song, "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos." Apparently he put hands on "By the Time I Get to Arizona" at some point as well. 

Nyah'Zo - Flourish

According to a recent study, young and old people's perceptions of time flipped during COVID lockdown, with young people feeling time flying, and olds imagining it slowed to a crawl. Normally, children, young adults, and even some middle-aged folks tend to think time drags while seniors by and large see time speeding by in front of their eyes. I have a theory about this. Maybe humans have evolved to experience time moving slowly for the sake of productivity. We perceive a lag so that all of us may get more done in the relatively little time we have on this planet. Time and space being so closely related, this might help explain how we're able to walk just a few years after we're born. For the sake of energy efficiency, the same genetic knowledge that lets us quickly adapt to our spatial environment also renders us relatively ignorant of our inherent temporal limitations. Life on Earth constantly multitasks so that it might one day flourish.

Nyah Zo's Flourish EP dropped about 10 months ago. She'll be performing at Lithurgy Brewing Co. in Farmingdale on March 31. Use promo code NYAH with your ticket purchase to support her.


Gudda Vell - Champion Season

I found Gudda Vell by stumbling across the video for his song, "Indigo (Here We Go)," possibly because it featured cuts by DJ Stitches. From there, I back-tracked my way to Champion Season, a mixtape from the early days of this website. December 4, 2015 was the advertised release date. The songs were posted individually to Soundcloud some seven years ago. I found them in March 2023. "Real Talk," the first I played, concluded with the voice of Gil Scott-Heron. Though the accompanying art featured a track list, the songs weren't compiled together on the platform as an album or playlist so I grouped them as such. The mixtape largely concerns Gudda's return from a five-year bid. 


KILLKURT - "New York Fashion Week"

Having the fashion sense of a color-blind 37-year-old Long Islander so fortunate as to have come of age during an era when flannel shirts and Dickies jeans were cool, I've dressed essentially the same since 6th grade, so every 10 years, give or take, I look with the times. When it comes to fits, I run them back compulsively like this latest KILLKURT track. But try taking the remote away when I'm watching my fashion competition programs and see what happens. Come find out!

Fka Kurt Hazard? I'm f the fk. Long Island Rap Records rocked with Hazardous. This song's something else, though. Hi-fi, lo-res audio-virtual catwalk companion clutch gets you in one of seven or eight pockets. (I'm partial to the Dickies carpenter cuts these days.)

Elmar the Ripper - Call Us By Our Name

"Stakes Sill High" like the allostatic load never lightened. 

Somebody tweeted something about how all New York drill rappers growl at each other, and I felt that like a callback to M.O.P. era deep cuts, like Knowledge the Pirate's CD-only appearance on DJ S&S' Harlem World Order—extra gravelly but slick too. 

Hardbody hour? Try hardbody century. Elmar the Ripper has a handle on that register, and a new EP called Elephant in the Room ahead. Ahoy! But first...

"King, call me by my name / Intellectuals don't believe in ₲od, fear us the same."


Chow Lee & Friends

The shiny suit era peeked some 25 years ago. Conceivably then, today former-would-be-shiny-suit rapper grands trade remember-back-in-the-days over sips of Cristal. Meanwhile, drill. Chow Lee and Cash Cobain's 2 Slizzy 2 Sexy landed an honorable mention in The New York Times' Best Albums of 2022. Lee and friends have a show coming up at Baby's All Right March 22 and a sticky new label compilation called Welcome To The Dollhouse out now. Being an 80-year-old man (see last post), I came up on Chow Lee via PDF-form EPK. More to come from that in the weeks and months ahead.

Johnny Storm - 80's Porno Flick

Peeking through oak leaves, a shooting star streaks the sky. I take out my dentures, unfasten her garter. The log in the stove smolders to a cackle, one more explosion of a night filled with them.

Cult Favorite - For Madmen Only (Dicennial Awakening)

For the most part, the salvage sale had the usual fare, not quite scrapyard-ready architectural elements and the like. But in one corner, wedged underneath a broken-legged writing desk, might've that brownish heap of papery rot once someplace, sometime been a cardboard box? Disintegrating on contact like acidic brain receptors, the sheath unfurls a heretofore undisturbed stack of perfectly preserved hand-stamped wax records.

Even unplayed, their contents abound like candles so aged they can stink up a warehouse floor.